Striking Gold at the Silverdome
There was no Goliath, only two Davids who had risen up to slay all the giants in their way. Both the Bengals and the 49ers had lost regularly in recent years, and they were given little pre-season hope of any playoff appearance. Coaches Bill Walsh of San Francisco and Forrest Gregg of Cincinnati led their overachievers into the first Super Bowl staged outside the Sun Belt. While the countryside was gripped by a bitter Michigan winter, the players and fans settled in for an afternoon of football in the comfortable Pontiac Silverdome.
Cincinnati kicked off and immediately grabbed a fumble by Amos Lawrence. Stunned by the sudden change of fortune, the 49ers allowed the Bengals to drive to the five-yard line. Regaining their composure, the 49ers sacked Ken Anderson for a six-yard loss, then picked off his next pass to end the threat.
Joe Montana then led his mates to a sustained drive downfield. He completed several passes while rolling out, and he also took part in a flea-flicker play which gained 14 yards. On the 11th play of the drive, Montana dived over for a touchdown.
In the second quarter, the Bengals moved deep into San Francisco territory only to lose the ball on Cris Collinsworth's fumble. Starting on the 8-yard line, Montana moved his team with passes and hit Earl Cooper with a scoring strike to make the score 14-0. With 15 seconds left on the first-half clock, Ray Wersching kicked a field goal for a 17-0 lead. On the kickoff, Archie Griffin fumbled and the 49ers recovered, setting Wersching up for another chip shot and a 20-0 lead.
The Bengals returned for the second half faced with the most one-sided score in Super Bowl history. They took the kickoff and relit their spirits with an 83-yard drive for a touchdown. Along the way, they delighted fans with a razzle-dazzle play to match that of the 49ers in the first half. For the rest of the third quarter, the score stayed at 20-7. Although the Bengals upped the score to 20-14 in the fourth quarter, the 49ers recaptured the momentum by stopping the Bengals on downs on the one-yard line, shutting down powerful fullback Pete Johnson on fourth down. Two more field goals by Wersching padded the San Francisco lead and paved the road to the 26-21 triumph. Of the two Cinderella teams, the 49ers had played in their usual loose style, while the Bengals looked as if the pressure was riding their backs.